About Lidia Michols

Court Awards Wife Alimony Based on Husband’s Earning Capacity Despite His Unemployment

In a recent divorce action pending in the Judicial District of Stamford at Norwalk, the court awarded a wife alimony and child support based on the husband’s earning capacity even though he was unemployed at the time of trial.  The parties were married in 1995 and lived in Wilton, Connecticut with their three minor children.  The wife brought approximately $360,000.00 into the marriage, consisting of liquid assets and a trust interest.  Although the parties had numerous disagreements over the years, the court found them equally at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

Although the husband was unemployed at the time of trial, the court found that he had a minimum earning capacity of $200,000.00, plus bonuses and commission.  Thus the court ordered the husband to pay the wife unallocated alimony and child support in the amount of $7,500.00 per month for a period of approximately ten years.  Additionally, commencing January 1, 2013, and for the same ten year period thereafter, the court ordered the husband to pay the wife 40% of his gross earned income between $201,000.00 and $400,000.00, and 30% of his gross earned income between $400,001.00 and $800,000.00.

Should you have any questions regarding alimony, or divorce actions in general, please do not hesitate to contact Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

 

Court May Terminate Parental Rights Even Though Adoption Arrangement is not Secured

In the case of In Re Davonta V., 285 Conn. 483 (2007), the Connecticut Supreme Court addressed whether it is ever in  a child’s best interest to terminate parental rights when an adoptive family has not yet been secured.  In that case, the child was the subject of a neglect petition filed by the Department of Children and Families alleging educational neglect, medical neglect and physical neglect.  After the petition was granted, the child was placed under protective supervision.  The mother subsequently moved out of state with the child; however, when she returned approximately a year later, the Department secured an Order of Temporary Custody based on additional reports of neglect.  After the OTC was granted, the child was committed to DCF’s care and placed in a foster home.

The Department of Children and Families subsequently filed a petition for termination of parental rights alleging that the child was being denied proper care and attention, and that the mother failed to rehabilitate herself.  After a trial, the court granted the Department’s petition, concluding that the child’s best interests would be served by severing the relationship with his mother.  The mother appealed on the basis that, among other things, the child’s foster parents had not guaranteed they would adopt him.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court explained that the law does not preclude the termination of a biological parent’s rights simply because adoption of the child by new parents is not imminent. Indeed, “Although subsequent adoption is the preferred outcome for a child whose biological parents have had their parental rights terminated… it is not a necessary prerequisite for the termination of parental rights.” (internal citations omitted). Id. at 492.  The Court further explained, “While long-term stability is critical to a child’s future health and development… adoption provides only one option for obtaining such stability.” (internal citations omitted). Id. at 492.  According to the Court, the reluctance of the child’s foster parents to proceed with adoption at the time of the termination proceedings was not a sufficient reason to disturb the trial court’s judgment. Id.

Citing various sources, the Court emphasized the importance of permanency, explaining “Children need secure and uninterrupted emotional relationships with the adults who are responsible for their care.” (internal citations omitted). Id. at 494-495.  “No child can grow emotionally while in limbo, never really belonging to anyone except on a temporary and ill-defined or partial basis.” (internal citations omitted). Id. at 495.

Written by: Michael D. DeMeola

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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

 

Court Approves Permanency Plan Including Termination of Parental Rights

In a recent decision involving the Department of Children and Families, the Court overruled the respondent mother’s objection to a proposed permanency plan that included termination of parental rights and adoption.  At the time of the hearing, the children were fourteen and eleven years old.  They both had special educational needs and were victims of sexual and physical abuse.  In 2005, they were taken into the custody of DCF after the Court granted an Order of Temporary Custody, or OTC.  Although the commitment was later revoked and the children returned to the mother’s care, they were eventually recommitted to the Department pursuant to a second OTC granted approximately two years later.

In overruling the mother’s objection, the Court noted that it is required to approve a permanency plan that is in the best interests of the child and takes into consideration the child’s need for permanency.  In considering a permanency plan, the child’s health and safety are of paramount concern. From an evidentiary standpoint, the judicial authority must find that the proposed goal of the permanency plan is in the best interests of the child by a fair preponderance of the evidence.

In this particular case, the Court considered the testimony of three expert witnesses, as well as evidence which established that both children were the victims of repeated sexual and physical abuse.  The Court further found that the parents failed to adequately acknowledge the abuse or the children’s special needs despite ample time and services.  Finally, the Court found that the children had been in foster care for over three years and felt a sense of well-being, safety and comfort in the home.  Based on those findings, the Court ultimately held that the permanency plan, including termination of parental rights, was in the children’s best interests.

Should you have any questions related to DCF proceedings, or family matters generally, please feel free to contact Michael D. DeMeola.  He practices in the firm’s Westport office and can be reached at (203) 221-3100 or mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our family law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best divorce attorneys and family attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut divorce or New York divorce today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce law attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free divorce consultation as well as free consultation on all other familial matters. Divorce in CT and divorce in NYC is difficult, but education is power. Call our family law office in CT today.

Wife Found in Contempt of Court’s “Automatic Orders”

In a relatively recent decision rendered in a dissolution of marriage action, a wife was found in contempt for depriving her husband of information regarding the parties’ two minor children in violation of the court’s “automatic orders.”  In this particular case, the parties were married 1991, and were the parents of two children.  At the time of trial the husband was forty-three years old and in generally good health.  He had an associate’s degree and worked for a supply company earning approximately $51,000 annually.  The wife was also forty-three years old and in generally good health.  Although she stayed home to care for the family for a better part of the marriage, in 1999 she began working as an independent contractor selling kitchen products.  Later, she worked for a local board of education, and at the time of trial, was employed with a local newspaper earning roughly $20,000, plus commission, annually.

During the divorce proceedings, the husband filed a motion for contempt claiming the wife violated the court’s automatic orders in that she left the marital residence with the children and refused to disclose their location.  In reviewing the merits of the husband’s motion, the court noted that in a civil contempt proceeding, the movant must show by a preponderance of the evidence the existence of a clear and unambiguous court order, and willful noncompliance with that order.  According to the court’s “automatic orders,” entered upon the commencement of every divorce action, neither party is permitted to remove children from the State of Connecticut without prior written consent of the other parent.  Additionally, a party vacating the marital residence with minor children must notify the other parent of the move, and must provide the other parent of an address where the relocated party can be contacted.  Finally, where parents live separate and apart during a divorce proceeding, pursuant to the “automatic orders,” they must assist their children in having contact with both parents.

In this particular case, the court found that because the wife was served in hand with a notice of automatic orders, she clearly knew she had an obligation to inform the husband in writing of any relocation.  The court found that she also knew she had a duty to assist her children in having contact with their father.  Nevertheless, the wife willfully removed the children from the home, and kept their address from the husband absent a valid reason for doing so.  As a result, the husband did not know where the children were living until the day of trial.  The court further found that the wife willfully kept the children from having contact with their father in violation of the court’s clear and unambiguous automatic orders.

Should you have any questions regarding automatic court orders, or divorce proceedings in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.
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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.

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New York Child Support Order Constitutes Impermissible Modification

Where a parent relocates to another state following a divorce, parties are often faced with the challenge of determining where to file post judgment motions.  In some cases, parties must also determine whether new – or different – orders are permitted under the laws of the state to which the former spouse moved.  In a relatively recent decision, a New York court addressed whether it was permitted to enter an entirely new child support order after a Connecticut order regarding the same children had expired.

The parties in this case were married in Connecticut and were the parents of three children.  When they separated, the mother moved with the children to New York while the father continued to reside in Connecticut.  As part of the divorce judgment, the court ordered the father to pay child support in the amount of $250.00 per week per minor child, and to continue providing the children with medical insurance at his sole expense. When the eldest son turned eighteen, the father’s support obligation terminated.

The mother subsequently filed a motion in New York seeking the reinstatement of child support.  In support of her motion, the mother claimed that under New York law, child support is payable until the age of twenty-one.  The father moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that the new order constituted an impermissible modification of the original order issued in Connecticut.  The court dismissed the father’s motion, however, and ordered him to pay child support in the amount of $350.00 per week.

On appeal, the Court noted that under the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act, each state must give full faith and credit to another state’s validly issued child support order and shall not seek to modify such order except in limited circumstances.  That legislative scheme, coupled with the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, establishes that the state issuing a child support order retains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction as long as one of the parties continues to reside in the issuing state.  In this particular case, the Appellate Court found that the father continued to reside in Connecticut and, therefore, Connecticut retained exclusive jurisdiction over the support order at issue.  Because the Appellate Court also found that the new order constituted a modification, it ultimately concluded that the trial had acted without jurisdiction.

Should you have any questions regarding child support, or divorce matters in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola, Esq.  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at mdemeola@mayalaw.com.

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Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a divorce or familial matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100 for a free consultation. Divorce is difficult, education is power. Call today.

 

How NCLB Implements it’s Goals

One of the stated goals of NCLB is that every child be able to read by the end of third grade. To this end, the Federal government invested in scientifically based reading instruction programs to be implemented in the early grades. An expected collateral benefit of this initiative is reduced identification of children requiring special education services resulting from a lack of appropriate reading instruction. NCLB funds screening and diagnostic assessments to identify K-3 students who are at risk of reading failure, and to better equip K-3 teachers in the essential components of reading instruction. Funds are also available to support early language, literacy, and pre-reading development of pre-school age children.

In keeping with its major themes of accountability, choice, and flexibility, NCLB also emphasizes the use of practices grounded in scientifically based research to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers. Once again, local school administrators are afforded significant flexibility in teacher staffing, provided they can demonstrate annual progress in maintaining and enhancing the high-quality of their teachers.

Finally, in an effort to ensure safe and drug-free schools, NCLB, as proposed, requires states to allow students who attend a persistently dangerous school, or who have been victims of violent crime at school, to transfer to a safe school. To facilitate characterizing schools as “safe” or “not safe,” NCLB requires public disclosure of school safety statistics on a school-by-school basis. In addition, school administrators must use federal funding to implement demonstrably effective drug and violence prevention programs.

It is within this overarching educational framework of NCLB that the State of Connecticut oversees and administers its constitutional and statutory obligations to educate your children.

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Our education law firm in Westport Connecticut serves clients with expulsion, discrimination, and general education law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. We have the best education law attorneys in CT on staff that can help with your Connecticut or New York education issues today.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an education law attorney about a pressing matter, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (203) 221-3100. We offer free consultations to all new clients.

What Services Are Required for School-Aged Children with Autism in Connecticut?

Children with autism are eligible for special education and related services in Connecticut.  State and federal law does not require local school districts to provide particular services for children with autism.  These laws do require school districts to identify children with disabilities that affect their educational performance and provide them with a free and appropriate public education tailored to their individual needs.

Specific services for autistic children depend on his or her disability and individualized educational program.  This program is established by the child’s planning and placement team.  A planning and placement team is a group consisting of the child’s parents, teachers, and educational specialist that evaluate the child’s services annually.

If you have any questions related to education law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

What Is the Law Controlling Drug Testing in the Workplace or in Public Schools in Connecticut?

Among employees there are a variety of times in which they may legally be drug tested in the workplace.  Employees are often tested prior to being hired to prevent employers from hiring people who use illegal drugs.  After an employee is hired, if an employee’s supervisor has reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may test the employee for illegal drug use.  Employees in a workplace may also be tested post-accident to determine whether drugs or alcohol contributed to the event.  Lastly, employers may choose to conduct random testing to deter drug use.  However, Connecticut law prohibits private-sector employers from requiring employees to undergo random drug tests.  An employer must have a reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol that is affecting, or could affect, his job performance before he may require a test.

State and municipal employees are not covered by the state law that prohibits random drug testing, however they are protected by the Fourth Amendment which prohibits the government from carrying out unreasonable searches.  The Supreme Court has ruled that urine tests are searches and that the Fourth Amendment applies to governments acting as employers.

Federal law and regulations also require the operators of commercial vehicles over a certain size, to undergo drug tests before they are hired, after serious incidents, and when there is a reasonable suspicion.   In the private sector, pre-employment drug testing is fairly common.

There are no federal or state statutes that cover drug testing of students in public schools.  Students do not have the same level of constitutional rights as adults however.  A 2002 Supreme Court decisions permits schools to conduct random drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities, but drug testing cannot be a condition for attending school.

If you have any questions regarding employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

What Should I Do if My Child Has Been Denied Special Education?

Schools may often refuse to make reasonable accommodations for children who need special education.  If your child has special education needs, the school must accommodate for the child under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  You have many rights in this situation such as the right to a manifestation hearing.  You may also have the right to file a complaint against the school district.  You should obtain an education attorney as soon as possible to educate you on your rights, and help you get the accommodations your child needs and deserves.  If you have any questions related to education law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Can a Student Be Expelled from School for Carrying a Weapon off School Property in Connecticut?

State law requires a local or regional board of education to expel a student for carrying certain weapons without a permit or using a weapon to commit a crime.  Under this law, firearms are considered any weapon that can expel a projectile by explosive, which includes explosives and poison gases.  Deadly weapons are also covered by the mandatory expulsion law.  Deadly weapons include a weapon from which a shot can be discharged, a switchblade or knife, or metal knuckles.  A student might even be expelled for carrying a dangerous instrument which might include anything, under the circumstances in which it is used, can cause death or serious injury, including an attack dog or a vehicle.

If you have any questions related to education law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.